Suspect is Arrested in Merced for Allegedly Furnishing Alcohol to Minors
ABC assisted the Merced Police Department by conducting a TRACE investigation
Merced – The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) today announced that a suspect has been arrested in Merced for furnishing alcohol to minors following a lengthy Target Responsibility for Alcohol Connected Emergencies (TRACE) investigation. ABC opened the TRACE investigation following a December 2020 fatal crash that claimed the life of a 19-year-old driver and injured three others, including an 18-year-old. Alcohol was determined to be a contributing factor in the crash.
On December 5, 2020, Merced Police Officers responded to a single-vehicle fatal traffic crash at Bear Creek Drive and Parsons Avenue in Merced. Merced Police Department traffic officers, with assistance from an ABC agent and the Merced County District Attorney’s Office, opened a year-long investigation into where the 19-year-old driver and two other teenagers obtained alcohol.
It was determined that 22-year-old Gage Vaughn had purchased the alcohol and allegedly furnished alcohol to the minors earlier in the evening. The Merced County District Attorney’s Office reviewed the case and filed charges against Gage Vaughn in relation to the case. Vaughn was arrested by Merced Police on December 1, 2021.
“ABC will actively pursue criminal investigations following alcohol-related fatal crashes through our TRACE program,” said ABC Director Eric Hirata. “These tragedies can be avoided by keeping alcohol out of the hands of minors.”
ABC’s involvement began shortly after the crash when it opened the TRACE investigation to find out the source of the alcohol consumed by the underage driver.
The TRACE program is made possible by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The grant provides funding for in-depth ABC investigations of serious incidents involving alcohol and minors, including car crashes. Visit our website to learn more about TRACE.
ABC protects communities through education and by administering prevention and enforcement programs designed to increase compliance with California’s alcoholic beverage laws. Learn more about ABC programs that protect communities, prevent alcohol-related harm, and save lives at ABC Enforcement Programs or ABC Education Programs.
ABC is a department of the Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency.